Fayette Public Library Director Kathy Carter is excited about three recent additions at her facility. In December 2011, Texas Connects Coalition member Technology For All (TFA) installed new computers and software at the La Grange, Texas location. The new hardware and programs created a third addition that library staffers and users had not seen in years: uniformity. All the computers look, act, and work the same way.
Like many American libraries, over time the Fayette County system built up a mixture of computer brands and software choices. “We had three or four different types of computers from different ages,” Carter said. Some patrons would use only one computer, citing certain software or perceived speed as reasons to favor a particular machine. Working with local officials and a major federal grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), TFA identified La Grange as a good prospect to get up-to-date broadband assets and free computer training. Located in rural Texas, Fayette County residents have less access to high speed computers and connectivity than urban Texans. Also, all the library’s computers were more than three years old, which denies users access to the newest technology often found in the workplace.
A few weeks before Christmas, two Program Specialists from TFA’s office in nearby Smithville met with library staff members to unload boxes, route cables, and load software. By the end of the day, 17 new systems were deployed across the library’s main section, the children’s area, and the history and archives center on the second floor.
Carter notes the change was almost immediate. New Hewlett-Packard computers provide uniform speed while flat screen monitors offer improved clarity. As an added bonus, through a grant from Microsoft, every system comes with Office 2010.
The biggest surge of users usually happens when students stream into the library after school ends at 3:30 p.m. Previously, there were times when lines formed for individual machines while others went unused. Those days are now gone.
“We really appreciate these are all new, and that they all work exactly the same,” she said. On a recent weekday afternoon, the librarian looked out over the eleven computers in the main section of the building. Among the users were a person in her 70s, a couple holding a five-month-old baby, and one of Carter’s regular patrons. Best of all, no one was waiting.
The Fayette Public Library is located at 855 Jefferson, La Grange, Texas. For more information, call the library at 979 968 3765 or visit the library’s website, www.cityoflg.com/Departments-Library.htm.
Source: Technology For All-Rural Texas and San Antonio